THAILAND TRIP / PART TWO
ok, we are on to our second post from the thailand trip. (see the first here) after 4 lovely days staying in ko lanta, we took a two-hour ferry ride (about $15 per person) to railay beach for the remainder of our trip. here’s all the details on where we stayed, what we did, where we ate, and all that good stuff. at the end of the post, i will answer questions i received and give a little advice on traveling to thailand. make sure to click after the jump, because there’s a looooot of pics!
pulling up to this beach really is epic. there are massive limestone rocks on either side of the beach, making it only possible to arrive by boat. (although it’s technically not an island) you get off the ferry and get into a long tail boat for a few minutes, since the ferry can’t take you all the way to the shore. again, you climb out of the boat into knee length water, drag your bags up the sand and our hotel was right in front of us. this was a much smaller area than we were before…no cars or scooters, just walking. i brought about 6 or 7 pairs of shoes, and should have only brought two: one pair of flip flops for the beach and boats and one pair of converse for scooters or long walks. really trying to learn my lesson and pack less. i did alright with the clothes but the shoes are the heavy part!
railay definitely seemed more touristy than ko lanta, but not too bad. i noticed that the prices were quite a bit higher, maybe due to the number of tourists, but also because they have to get everything to railay by boat.
CLICK TO READ THE WHOLE THAILAND POST BELOW…
we stayed at railei beach club (thanks to a commenter for recommending!) there are tons of houses on the property and we were able to get one of the last ones available (8m) it had it’s own deck that i’m standing on above, with an outdoor bathroom (which was very clean), and it’s own full kitchen detached from the house. there were quite a lot of mosquitoes in the evenings, but luckily they had nets on the bed.
this resort would be perfect for families or people traveling in a group. it felt very safe and clean, right by the beautiful ocean, and had a really helpful staff. i gotta say, i sort of missed the “community” vibe that our ko lanta resort had with the common dining area, pool and beach bar…this place was much more secluded and didn’t have a pool. they had a tiny happy hour spot in the front, but other than that you were kind of on your own. again, it just depends what you want on your vacation. it was still wonderful and very convenient to walking to places.
it takes a day or two to get used to showering outside in the open air. but it’s pretty nice actually.
a few shopping credits since people have asked…
swimsuits from j.crew
swim coverups from show me your mumu
fleabag backpack shown in photo
free people sunglasses
stevan alan hat
calypso st. barth dress for fancy evening
madewell casual day dress
and how could i NOT talk about the monkeys everywhere. within a few minutes of us getting there we saw at least 20 monkeys hanging out together on the side street that we walked on to go get food. it’s fascinating to just watch them do their thing, and luckily they didn’t seem aggressive. i have heard quite a few stories about monkeys stealing belongings, and we were instructed to keep all our windows closed when we leave because the monkeys will come in and tear through the bungalow looking for food! ha, can you imagine walking in to that scene?
we favorite day was exploring phra nang beach. gosh, it was so gorgeous. you walk on a path for a few minutes and see all of these cave-like overhangs on the side of a hill. then you reach the other side which opens up to a fantastic beach with cool rock formations and white sand. this is where i decided to finally get back into the ocean (after 4 years!) the water was clear, calm and i felt safe there. what a memory. you could also see rock climbers putting on a show for people there. we took our underwater camera out in the water and took a bunch of pictures. most came out blurry, but some are pretty special.
we first went to phra nang at sunset and it was barely crowded, but visited again during the afternoon and found out that it gets very crowded. avoid mid-day if you are looking for a calm experience there.
and how could i forget about these phallic carvings found in the caves right on phra nang beach. a shrine to a princess goddess in krabi…i have to say, they were a bit shocking to just come across (especially the one in the back. haha)
our final night of the vacation we booked a 4 hour sunset cruise through our hotel (about $40 per person) and that included dinner, snorkeling, a boat ride at sunset with a group of about 15 people, and cliff jumping. i’m really happy we decided to do this, it was the perfect ending to our trip.
cheeeeeesin after i finally got the guts to snorkel!
arian was the brave one and decided to jump off the top of the boat AND go cliff jumping. and that’s when i just observed and thoroughly enjoyed my margarita with some new friends we met on the boat. he’s far more adventurous than me…but i like that about him. at the end of the sunset you could see 1000′s of bats flying way overhead going towards some fruit trees on the island. such a cool sight! i’ll remember that boat ride for a long time.
as far as food, i didn’t enjoy what we had as much as ko lanta…BUT! they had a place called the mangrove restaurant where the food was really affordable and delicious. we went back three times for coconut smoothies and pad see ew, and prawn panang curry. the mango sticky rice from the cart across the path is pretty awesome too.
Q & A:
“do you need to get vaccinations before you go?”
you aren’t required to have any to enter the country, but we decided to be safe. we went to the healthy traveler in pasadena and they recommended we get 3 before going: tetanus, hepatitis A and typhoid. i hadn’t gotten shots in over 10 years, so i figured it was a good time to do that anyways. i’m also terrified of doctors/shots but this place was really amazing. didn’t hurt at all and was done in less than 3 seconds! not kidding. but beware, shots are pricey. those three cost us each around $300! but that’s better than risking it i think.
“how much do you think it costs to travel to thailand?”
the plane ticket is definitely the most expensive part. it cost us about $1200 per person. we flew cathay pacific which is really nice and only had a one hour layover in hong kong. there are cheaper flights if you do more layovers, but we didn’t want to waste vacation time. it took us about 17 hours to get there and around 14 to get home. the flights are really easy if you get a red eye so you can sleep most of the way.
as for prices of the hotels, there are SO many options. everyone was telling me that i should just book one night and then look around for places once i was there…but i’m a little too type A for all that. our first hotel was $115 a night with breakfast included and the ocean view, and our hotel on railay beach was around $220 a night. like i said, i found railay to be more expensive and the house we stayed in was newer/nicer than the first hotel in ko lanta. compared to the U.S., those prices are awesome for what we got, so i’m not complaining. i saw a lot of hotels for way less than $100 a night while i was researching, it all depends what you are looking for.
so let’s do some numbers: (averages)
$2400 – roundtrip flight for two people
$620 – three nights hotel in railay
$150 – one night hotel in phuket
$460 – four nights in ko lanta
$25 – cab from the airport to our hotel in phuket (50 mins)
$100 – long tail boat & 2 hour cab from krabi to phuket airport
$100 – total ferries/boat rides for two travel days to diff. islands
$250 – food for two people + cocktails, for 8 days
$30 – scooter rental for three days
$600 – vaccinations before trip
$180 – activities we did: cooking class, sunset cruise, kayaking, snorkeling
total: around $2500 each, for two people to travel to thailand. i added a little bit, because i am sure i forgot a few things!
“what should i pack?”
pack light!! but don’t forget a few key things:
• your passport travel power adapter that works with the plugs there
• sun screen
• bug spray (i still got so many mosquito bites at night!)
• medicine for an upset stomach (sometimes the food can be hard on your stomach until you’re used to it)
• flip flops or shoes you don’t mind getting wet
• sneakers for longer walks, hikes, scooter rides etc.
• bathing suits & coverups (i wore mine all day most days)
• camera. the scenery is too good not to capture. we also brought an underwater camera!
• headphones, socks, layers for the freezing plane ride
• a backpack or cross-body purse for comfortably exploring
• hat (i always wear mine on the plane so it won’t get crushed)
and a few clothes of course. just less than you think…
what would you do differently if you went back and did the same trip?
i would fly into krabi airport instead of the phuket airport (wasted time with that mistake) i would add one more day so i could easily do a day trip to phi phi island. although people say it’s a lot of party/rave people at night, the water looked absolutely gorgeous when we stopped there on the ferry. we just didn’t have it in us to do more boat rides or day trips with only 8 days there. i think it was a good decision to do more days in ko lanta than railay beach because there isn’t much to do in railay. but it’s beautiful and i’m happy we went there. i wish i had researched where we could go shopping for some authentic gifts to take home. we didn’t see many shops that had this stuff when we were there, but on our drive to the airport, i saw a lot of gorgeous woven baskets and wished i could have stopped and explored them.
did you feel safe?
totally. besides me being a worrier when i travel abroad, (see here) i felt really safe the whole time. one of the guys in a bar was explaining to me how thailand relies so much on tourism, so they go out of their way to make tourists happy and comfortable. and that’s exactly how it felt. the people were so friendly. yes, it definitely was more of a rustic experience than just checking into a fancy resort, however, we chose medium level hotels that still had some of the grittiness so we could have a more authentic experience. i also really felt like the cab drivers/ferry workers/hotel staffs etc were all very familiar with tourists coming in, asking for directions or transportation instructions and traveling around to different islands, so that was a relief.
so tell me, does thailand look like somewhere you’d want to travel to?! thanks for following along on my trip, hopefully you found some of this advice helpful!
make sure to check out the first part of the thailand trip here.